I feel pretty comfortable. It's for sure a bit different - the ice in Europe and the ice here - but now I think I'm good to go. - Reto Berra
CALGARY, AB -- Reto Berra has quite the resume.
The 26 year-old netminder has represented Switzerland in multiple international tournaments and was key in the Swiss advancing to the gold medal game at the World Championship this past spring.
He has played his way up from the National League B to the National League A in his home country, eventually taking on the starting role with EHC Biel after stints with the ZSC Lions and HC Davos.
He has solidified himself as one of the best netminders in Europe with his stellar play with Biel, capturing the NLA Goalie of Year Award and being named to the NLA All-Star Team in the 2011-12 season.
But Berra doesn't have single North American pro game under his belt and understands there will be challenges in the transition to the smaller ice surface. Wanting to minimize the adjustment period, the Bülach, SUI native has spent a big chunk of his summer in Calgary.
He attended the Flames week-long development camp in July before heading back to Switzerland to participate in the Swiss Olympic orientation camp. He put in a couple of weeks of training after the Olympic camp had concluded, moving to Calgary to continue his on-ice work in late August.
"I start going on the ice with my old teammates in Biel," the netminder said. "I was on the ice with them for one or two weeks. Then I came here into Calgary two weeks ago already and was on the ice with a couple of the guys here.
"I feel pretty comfortable. It's for sure a bit different - the ice in Europe and the ice here - but now I think I'm good to go."
With the retirement of Miikka Kiprusoff, the starting gig is open for the first time in years. Veteran Joey MacDonald has the most experience in the NHL and with the Flames but he will have to fend off Karri Ramo, who signed a two-year deal with the team on July 5, Joni Ortio, who is coming off a stellar performance at the Young Stars Classic, Laurent Brossoit, who is looking to make the leap to the pro's this year, and Berra.
The competition will be extremely tight and it could be easy to get wrapped up in watching other guys jostle for the starting position. Berra wants to avoid that kind of distraction as he makes his bid take over the reins in net.
"For sure I came here to make the team. That's no question. Mentally, I try to focus on my game, getting better every day. That's the best things I can do to make the team.
"I don't try to think too much about all the other guys, all the other goalies. I have my own goals that I want to reach and I try to get better every time I step on the ice ... (I'll) show up and show what I can do here on the ice. Then, we'll see what happens."